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My Friends’ Brothers

September 11, 2013

urlOh brothers. But this time I’m not talking about the kind you think.

This post is about the non-kin kind, the kind of brothers that felt so alien when you were younger but now seem like your friend’s twin, the kind of brothers you’ve never really had a conversation with and yet you know more about them than their Facebook page could ever say, the kind of bothers that are so attractive that when they stop by to pick your friend up for Thanksgiving you’re not sure how long it took you to stop staring at the door after they left. I’m talking about the kind of brothers that are way more complicated than your own, because how on earth are you supposed to interact with a human who your friend both adores, hates, looks up to and is entirely disgusted by  – especially when said brother happens to be flirting back.

Chances are you’ve come upon many a brotherly flirtation over the years, awkward interactions at sleepovers, passing the platter at dinner, bonding over your friend’s hysterical quirk. These are the boys you’re supposed to ignore, tease or despise and yet I can’t be the only one who has trouble ignoring my favorite qualities in my friends that also happen to come in a nicely packaged xy-chromosome exterior. Doesn’t falling for your best friend’s brother make perfect sense?!

We all know I’m a crusher by nature, so really it is undeniable that the siblings of my friends would end up on my radar. It is no secret that I can’t wait for Cindy’s youngest brother to grow into a stud and that I think my friend’s brother Simon is the most attractive thing to ever happen. The only brother I think I’ve managed to avoid crushing on is Charlie, the one whose twin is my oldest friend. The three of us grew up together, and I’ve been told I should end up with him so many times that just this weekend when a family friend asked me when we were going to get to together I knew just what to say to change the subject. I love Charlie and I can’t deny that whenever he seeks me out to catch up I’m thrilled, but it’s not fun to crush on people you’re told to, especially when every other one of your friends has fallen for him at one point or another.

On the whole I can usually keep my emotions in check when it comes to brothers, keeping my crush in the realm of a joke or the unreal because they’re usually just that, attractions that I have no intention of genuinely pursuing. But interacting with brothers is a delicate balance and it’s really too bad that the one person you want to discuss it with is your one friend who really doesn’t want to hear it.

2940016462738_p0_v1_s260x420So this weekend when I hung out with one of said brothers, it was pretty much a given I’d have all sorts of conflicting emotions.

I’ve gone camping with him and his sister hundreds of times and though it has been a year since I’ve seen either of them, we are used to picking right up where we left off. He’s grown up a ton in the last few years, jumping from angsty teen to active, optimistic, 20-something in what feels like a matter of seconds. So it was nice to get to know this older, awesome version of a kid whose homemade fireworks I used to run from, especially when he made it clear how highly he thought of me and my family (he called us the salt of the earth) and how undeniably awesome he was when it came to doing the things around camp that needed to be done. Out of all of us this weekend he was the rock, the one that never complained and always put a smile on our faces. His attitude and energy level just blew me away and he went out of his way to make me and everyone feel appreciated. I am so proud of him and how far he‘s come.

So at first it was great that he and the awesome friend I brought along hit it off. They bonded over everything, looking at the world in many of the same ways and sharing an affinity for hiking and skiing. I was glad that she’d settled in well to our group, and even impressed at how easily they flirted. But as the hours turned to days I found myself incredibly and uselessly jealous. Jealous of the time he kept her away from me, jealous of the attention she kept him from giving me, jealous of the way they looked at each other while I was sitting alone.

I think that was the biggest problem; I was watching an all too familiar adventure from the sidelines. River trips are magical weekends, throwing together people for days on end without technology or real life to distract us from what makes us happy. When I was 17 the older (much older) cousin of my friend came along on one of our trips and he and I became inseparable. He’d seek me out when I was sitting alone and throw me over his shoulder when we were playing touch football. Over campfires he told me I had my whole life ahead of me and under the stars he was the first guy to tell me I was beautiful. That trip was a pivotal moment in my life, showing me how I could be and giving me many of the tools to make it so.

That same magic happened again when just last summer I got to the river and my friend’s younger brother was suddenly 20-something and taller than me. He was mine all weekend, flirting and teasing in ways that were way more fun than the sibling-like teasing we used to do. Every time I’ve seen him since that same tension is still there and while I know we won’t actually work out, I can’t deny that the dream of our merged families is fun sometimes.

This time around as I watched my friend flirt with the guy I know is wonderful, it was odd feeling torn between two jealousies. In many ways I wanted another experience like the ones I’d had before; he’s a great guy and there is no reason we wouldn’t work. But in other ways I was on the other side of it, watching my friend make a move on a guy I think of as my brother, feeling slightly betrayed and not altogether okay. I watched as she drew him in, and suddenly I didn’t trust my friend with my almost brother’s emotions. I know it’s all good, both of them are going to be in my life forever whether or not they end up dating and they’re both grown ups – I know they can take care of themselves, but is that how all my friends feel when I flirt with their brothers? Why did it hurt so much to watch two people I love share their happiness? Why do I want to have not only all his attention but also hers? Isn’t knowing we’re all friends enough? Does this come back to the best friend problem?

4781530-256-k222500I shouldn’t be surprised, there have been plenty of moments when my actual brother has sought out one of my friends over me, leaving me thoroughly heartbroken in the process. It’s always something useless, like sharing a link on Facebook, but it still hurts when two people I love share a moment without me. I don’t get that way with his other friends, or even his girlfriends, but people who were ‘mine’ first definitely come with a different set of boundaries. Any idea why?

Mostly everything is fine, we all had a great weekend and I had plenty of beautiful time alone with everyone. I know this particular brother thinks well of me (his sister told me that on their way to the tent one night he said, if there were more people like [Sleeping Booty] in the world it would be a better place). He even got my number from his sister and texted me the next day to make sure we’d promise to hangout more.

I just wish I could figure out how to deal with this mystery that is the brothers of my friends (hug or no hug upon greeting?!) and why it is so difficult for sisters to really be totally okay with their friends and brothers becoming more.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. snowwhore permalink*
    September 11, 2013 10:58 am

    This is interesting. I can kind of relate, but in a different way. For me, it was never the brothers of my friends, but my brother’s friends that I had crushes on. And my brother definitely did not handle this well. His friends would want me to hang out with everyone, and my brother would purposefully exclude me because he didn’t want me encroaching on his territory. And also, even though we are only a year and a half apart, he felt I was way to young for his friends. So I think the jealousy thing is normal, just be more mature about it than my brother was–which I think you are doing anyway. Your feelings are valid, you just have to restrain yourself from visibly pouting about it in front of them. I also have had plenty of experience in being the one who has the swoon-worthy brothers.I have had so many girls tell me they have crushes on my brothers, that I’ve lost count. But don’t fret sleeping booty. I was never angry when I heard this from my friends. I honestly just found it amusing, and I didn’t mind hearing about it. So maybe you could talk to your girlfriends about their brothers. If it is innocent crushes like you are talking about, they, like me, probably will be ok with it.

    • September 12, 2013 9:36 pm

      that makes so much sense. i bet it’s a hundred times worse for guys to deal with liking their friend’s sisters. so much more off limits than brothers are. but why!? we’re all friends right?!

  2. Cinderslut permalink*
    September 12, 2013 5:19 am

    Intriguing. I think it would work out great for you to get with Charlie or another one of your awesome friends’ brothers. And for the record, you can flirt with mine any time you like. 🙂

    • September 12, 2013 9:34 pm

      Charlie will never happen. i can’t even explain why. i just. we just. no.

      as for your brother or simon though… im pretty much all in. a real part of me considered stalking simon so i could run into him in california and throw myself at him. but alas. i’ll just have to wait for his sister’s wedding, which might not be too far away!

      and thanks for saying that about your bro, though if anything real were to ever happen i bet you’d feel some of the same things i’m talking about. do you ever feel left out of Snow and your other brother’s coworker bonding time?

      • Cinderslut permalink*
        September 13, 2013 12:31 am

        I was talking to SW about this last night. I actually don’t feel too jealous when they hang out. Maybe if they were hanging out every day and became true BFFs I would, but other than that I’m glad to have him use my friends as surrogate sisters. I like the idea of all the people I love being friends. 🙂

  3. September 19, 2013 10:10 am

    update: said brother and said friend are going ‘backpacking’ this weekend. that is a euphemism for sex if I’ve ever heard one. why am i not okay with this!?


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